A few days ago, I went diving with Ocean Frontiers in the East End of Grand Cayman.  Both dives were great ; tons of fish, some lobsters (very big …), a nurse shark and amazing visibility.  All-in-all, a great time.  However, little did I know, the best was yet to come.

On the way back to the dock, the captain suddenly turned around.  I had no idea why.   Turns out he had spotted a large Manta Ray.  So he doubled back and found it once again. It was swimming at the surface so was somewhat easy to spot assuming you were wearing polarized sunglasses (cuts out glare/sun reflection on the ocean)

Here is the Manta Ray as we get close to it.  My estimate is 7ft across.


Here the boat is stopped and its right next to us.



This is now the best part.  Since Manta’s are essentially gentle giants, most of us on the boat grabbed our fins, masks and snorkels and jumped into the water with it.   I don’t have an underwater camera (I know, I know … ) so thanks to Simon who was on the boat with me.  Here it is ; notice the snorkeler behind.


Close up shot



Underneath shot


and finally what is probably the best shot of all:


The episode, amazingly, lasted about 10 minutes.  The Manta ray was obviously not afraid of us and even double back a few times when it got too far from us.  Almost as if it wanted to play.  It got so close we could have touched it.  Of course, all on board are animal lovers so we abstained from doing that, even though it was tempting.  This was definitely one dive outing I will remember for a long time.